Everyday excellence: Honor Guard celebrates victory

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Shelby Kay-Fantozzi)

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Shelby Kay-Fantozzi)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Veteran’s Day weekend was a busy one for Cannon’s Base Honor Guard, according to the program’s manager, Tech. Sgt. Travis Eldridge. But the team’s efforts were rewarded when they won in their category at Saturday’s Clovis, N.M., Veteran’s Day parade.

“We won the first place trophy for veterans’ organized marching unit,” Eldridge explained. “Our job was marching with the colors and presenting them onstage during the pledge of allegiance and national anthem.”

On top of the of the local parade, Cannon’s honor guard covered Veteran’s Day details from high schools to retirement homes to military honors at funerals in a few of the 34 Texas and New Mexico counties in their area of responsibility.

“The success of this weekend compliments how hard this team works,” Eldridge said. “It was fulfilling for all of us. This is our first big win since 2005.”

Eldridge was quick to acknowledge that the efforts of his Airmen were what propelled the team to their achievement.

Senior Airman Rian Hanke, 27th Special Operations Support Squadron host aviation resource manager and a trainer for the honor guard’s B flight, explained that it was truly a combination of Eldridge’s leadership and his Airmen’s determination that keeps the team working so effectively.

“This weekend was an amazing experience,” Hanke said. “Tech. Sgt. Eldridge works really hard to keep us performing well.”

Hanke is one of several Airmen that Eldridge relies on to lead their peers to excellence.

“I hold my flight trainers accountable to ensure the team is doing what they need to do,” said Eldridge. “Every detail you see as our customer is a reflection of the work that all of our people put in. I tell our Airmen what we need to accomplish—in training, a detail, or a fully scheduled weekend—and they absolutely run with it.”

For Hanke, there is never a question on whether his exertions will reap rewards.

“I make sure to tell our new Airmen that as much as you put in, you get out,” he said. “Whether you volunteered to join Honor Guard or not, take it as an opportunity. The honorable task set will drive you to come here and perform to your utmost.”

Satisfied customers, whether officers handing off command of a squadron, Airmen retiring after decades of service, or families spotting the sharp silver and blue of our honor guard’s uniforms at a local parade, give Eldridge the drive to run an outstanding team.

“Everyone on this base works hard,” he said. “When we come out to fold a flag at a retirement, present the colors at a change of command, or set the POW/MIA table at a dinner, they deserve our best. And that goes for our surrounding community too.”

Community members—often families of veterans receiving their final honors—hold a special significance for Eldridge.

“Out in the community, we might be the first or last interaction they’ll have with the military,” he said. “It’s our job to make an everlasting impression.”